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The Big House at Hume Lake
We walk in, legs cramped from our long drive. Parents, out of patience already, with their carful of exuberant children, attempt to reel their children back in as we’ve raced out of the car in our mad dash to the rock garden. Is our painted rock from last summer still there? We bounce off of each other like pin-balls in our excitement. The two big brothers have activated their superior, know-it-all mode as they decide what we should investigate next: the walking trail, the horse barn, the lake, or the neighbor’s snake hutches. Frenetic and short-spanned attention, we run to say hello to the neighbors, but are caught by parents pointing out our baggage in the driveway and threatening that they will not carry it into the house for us.
With barely suppressed disdain, we begrudgingly carry our belongings upstairs to the communal kid room, claiming our bunk beds, the siblings squabbling a bit and shoving stick hands on sweaty arms.
Mom, my mom, yells that our other family friends have arrived and we four tumble down the stairs to greet a son, the only other daughter in our mix, hug a mom not ours, and get picked up and thrown in the air by a strong father not ours.
The adults catch up on whatever is important in their grown-up worlds and our newcomers join our frantic activity of reacquainting ourselves with James’ Cabin and Hume Lake. One of the other mothers has made a snack and I complain that it is not sweet enough. She sticks her magic sugar finger in my bowl and says “there.” Instantly, the snack is tastier. I wonder still how she did that. If I analyze now, I wonder whether it was a placebo power of suggestion, if her finger had sugar on it from baking, or if it was simply mom magic?
Even wearing a Hume Lake t-shirt!
Into the Wilderness then Back to the House
They let us hike. We six burst forth into nature, keeping the wildlife hidden in fear of our childish yells, leaps and excitement. Like tornadoes, we tear through the mountain, stopping to scrutinize Conestoga wagons, the big lake, the blob, the slide of terror, the pines, the convenience store, the barns, and back to the Big House, where two more families are waiting for us, a gaggle of kids, a slew of dads, and enough moms to promise tasty treats and the eagle eyes of excessive parental supervision, all with the power of time out!
Stephen and I will be in time out at least three times in the next several weeks. Placed there by one of the mothers and usually at the actions of an elder sibling tricking us or tattling on us! We’ll plot revenge, but then get so caught up in the fun, we forget our schemes. I’ll end up with mosquito bites and a sprained ankle, the unpleasant souvenirs of summer. Our red head friend will be horribly sunburned and we two girls will be the lone females amongst our harem of older brothers, tormentors and protectors. We’ll fish with one of the other fathers and I’ll catch the most. We’ll swim, canoe, ride horses, hike, camp, laugh, but I will never make it on the slide of terror.
The Important Friendship
The Big House, James’ Cabin, houses us all, but aside from precious time spent with my family, the most important aspect of my childhood was my relationship with Stephen. We shared a cradle, our big brothers were best friends, our mothers were close, and as babies we were destined for friendship. As the only little girl in a co-op of thirty-six babies, I was everyone’s little princess, though never a girlie girl. This was proven true when he presented me with a gift of jewelry and high heels that were promptly broken the first day in extreme sports. We shared everything, naps, matching stuffed animals, time-out punishments, Legos, and even nightmares inspired by The Secret of Nimh and the White Witch from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
At James’ Cabin, this friendship was allowed to deepen. Every summer, swimming, canoeing, fishing, hiking by the lake, we were always enthralled with “the Blob” and the slide, which I call “the Slide of terror.” And finally one summer, it happened.
I climbed up a long, straight ladder that seemed to touch the sky, Stephen behind me. We ascended up miles and miles of ladder. The prize was in sight. Once we reached the top, I would slide down miles of slide propelling me into the air until I would vault on to “the Blob”, sinking into its squishy center to wait for the next body to catapult me from its cushiony softness into the cold shock of the lake. The Blob was every child’s biggest fear and greatest anticipation. We watched on as others slid down the slide, shrieking in joy, thrust into the air like human rockets and landing in laughing piles of joy. We’d shiver in terror, secretly wishing we had been the rocket shooting off the slide and onto the blob. We’d continue watching as the next slider hurtled through the air and dislodged the previous missile, sending him or her spiraling into the lake.
Stephen and I climbed. We were finally old enough that our parents would let us go down the slide at Hume Lake. Strong swimmers from birth, as California coastal kids tend to be, Stephen and I knew we had arrived at lake maturity! But at the top, I looked down. The ground below was so far away, the people so distant and small. I started to cry, even though below us, other eager children clung to the rungs of the ladder. Stephen, protective and bold, ordered those rung-clingers off of the ladder, one by one, he cleared the path down, leading a crying friend back to the ground and giving up his own ride down the slide. He was always taking care of his cradle mate.
Hume Lake is:
- A Christian camp that provides both cabins for families, day camps and overnight camps for youth and teens, and religious services and workshops for those of all ages.
- A place where families can grow closer to each other, nature, and God.
- Summer camp! Every summer we visited Hume Lake, we would have time with our family for a week and then we kids would spend a week at overnight camp. My fondest memories involve riding horses, swimming, craft time, trading post, getting a postcard from my moms, singing around the campfire, hiking, kayaking, and spending uninterrupted time with my childhood friends.
- In California.
- In the wilderness.
This was indicative of every summer for the first thirteen years of my life. Hume Lake in California with half a dozen moms, half a dozen dads, and a horde of playmates. Singing around campfires, hiking, laughing, it was rather idyllic. As young adults, we briefly discussed revisiting James’ Cabin, the Big House, but everyone is so far away, too busy with work or families, disinterested, or dead. The Big House houses my fondest memories, my dearest friendships, and the precious moments that go by so quickly.